Eight principles that underpin effective behaviour management

Behaviour management strategies and policies are a crucial element of a school’s culture. Having a clear set of guidelines that are followed and implemented effectively makes a significant difference to the work of teachers in the classroom. It also ensures a better learning environment for pupils and reduces lost teaching hours spent on dealing with poor and disruptive behaviour.

The NASUWT has established eight principles that underpin effective behaviour management. The principles should be considered in conjunction with the NASUWT’s guide to Developing a Behaviour Management Policy.

Teachers cannot teach and pupils cannot learn in an environment where there is disruption and violence, and, where such behaviour occurs, it cannot be explained away simply by attributing it to a teacher’s inability to plan and deliver a lesson effectively.

The work done by the NASUWT over many years has ensured that governments, employers, inspectors and many parents now accept these important considerations.

The DfE has published its updated Behaviour in Schools guidance. This non-statutory guidance is intended to provide direction to schools and multi-academy trusts. We have produced Advice on the DfE's Behaviour in Schools Publication for members that sets out the key aspects of the guidance.

Statement of principles for behaviour management

  1. The primary purpose of the behaviour policy and procedures should be to create and maintain a learning environment where all pupils and staff are respected, all pupils can achieve and succeed and all teachers can teach effectively.

  • The behaviour policy should make reference to special educational needs/additional learning needs/additional support needs and inclusion, staffing and staff development, safeguarding, equality, anti-bullying, physical intervention and relevant statutory guidance and government circulars.

  • The behaviour policy should complement a curriculum that is appropriate for, and meets the needs of all pupils.

  1. All pupils and staff should be kept safe. They should be able to study, work and live without fear of violence, intimidation, harassment, abuse or disruption.

  • Schools should make it clear that violent and aggressive behaviour, harassment, bullying and making false allegations are unacceptable and will never be tolerated. The behaviour policy should apply to behaviour both inside and outside the school.

  • Schools should protect staff from violence and abuse and support staff if they are subjected to violence or any form of abuse.

  • The behaviour policy should be linked to the school’s procedures for safeguarding and staff wellbeing.

  1. Schools should establish a clear and consistent approach to behaviour management.

  • Schools should have an up-to-date behaviour policy, and ensure that staff, pupils, and parents/carers are aware of the policy and related procedures, and understand their role and responsibilities in relation to these.

  • The behaviour policy and procedures should set out the rewards that will be used to encourage and reward good behaviour, and the sanctions that will be used to address poor behaviour.

  • The behaviour policy should apply to the actions of pupils both on and off the school site.

  1. Staff should have an entitlement and appropriate access to training and support on behaviour matters.

  • All staff should receive regular training, including refresher training, to enable them to follow the behaviour policy and procedures, and ensure that the policy and procedures are fairly applied.

  • Early identification and intervention are essential factors in successful behaviour management. Schools should ensure that staff can access appropriate resources, including specialist advice and support promptly.

  1. The school should work in partnership with staff, including trade unions, parents and pupils to develop, implement and review the behaviour policy.
  • A behaviour policy is most effective when there is a genuine sense of ownership of the policy.

  • Parents should be encouraged to support the school to maintain high standards and the school should liaise with parents in relation to issues that may be affecting their child’s behaviour.

  1. The school’s behaviour policy should comply with equalities legislation and the school’s duty to promote community cohesion.
  • The behaviour policy should not discriminate against pupils on the basis of any protected characteristic and it should also contribute to advancing equality. Schools should collect and regularly review data on behaviour to ensure that their policy is operating fairly and equitably.

  • The behaviour policy should protect both pupils and staff. Schools should monitor incidents to ensure that pupils and/or staff who share a protected characteristic are not experiencing particular difficulties.

  • The behaviour policy should complement the school’s work to promote community cohesion.

  1. The policy and related procedures for behaviour management should not be burdensome or unnecessarily bureaucratic.
  • The school should monitor and review the workload impact of its behaviour management policy and procedures.

  1. Headteachers/principals should be empowered to exercise responsibly their professional judgement in the use of exclusion.
  • There should be an appropriate system and resources in place to identify and meet the educational needs of children who are excluded or who are at risk of exclusion.

The NASUWT is clear that no school can expect to establish and maintain positive pupil discipline unless it is committed to putting these principles into practice.

The Union will represent the interests of teachers and school leaders robustly where school practices fall short of the standards that teachers can reasonably expect.

If you have a concern about the way in which behaviour is being managed in your school, you should seek advice and support from the NASUWT immediately.

For NASUWT Representatives who want to check whether a school's behaviour management procedures address key issues, the NASUWT has published guidance on Reviewing Behaviour Management Procedures.


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